Religion says we must do this and do that to please God. It is made up of rules and rites, creeds and laws, putting a sorrowful burden on the honest heart because it knows that no matter how great the effort, the standard can never be attained. Religious people can get around this by creating a standard that they can reach. By doing this, they then fall into a self-righteous pride. Either way, religion is hard work.
The Gospel is not like that, despite the labels put on it. The Christian who knows Jesus Christ and lives by the power of the Holy Spirit does not base their faith on what they are doing. Instead, we have responded to His invitation and live by grace.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28–30)Jesus knows that we are prone to try and earn the favor of God, but in our labors to do so, there is no certainty, no rest. The zealous eventually find themselves weary with the load.
Actually, the words here for heavy laden indicate just that — a great and large cargo, a full load. This load could include a deep desire for holiness and all efforts to become that, but whatever else is involved, the heavy load includes the weight of failure, of sin and shortcomings that separate sinners from God. It is the sense of never quite measuring up.
But Jesus talks about a different burden, a light one that is easy. The word used in this case is not the cargo of the first burden but a word that means the invoice! No wonder He calls it a light load.
Carrying this light load includes learning from Jesus, becoming acquainted with His nature and humility. It is walking alongside Him with a load that is easy; He shares the carrying and allows us to rest rather than labor and be stressed about our eternal destiny because He has secured it for us.
The Gospel is simple. Jesus died for our sins, was buried, then rose again the third day. The penalty for sin has been paid. Jesus also lives the righteous life we can never live, and when He is received into our hearts as Savior and Lord, that life becomes our life. He took our sin so that His righteousness might become our piety and holiness. Not only that, we die to our old life so that we can take His light burden and be yoked with Him.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Galatians 2:20–21)There is nothing I can do to earn the favor of God or eternal life. Contrary to religious beliefs, I am set free from the law of sin and death by faith in Jesus Christ, nothing else. I am saved by grace through faith, and even faith is a gift from Him. In this liberty, I am not in a religion but in an incredible relationship.
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3)
********Lord, so many sincere people work hard to please You with their religious activities. Others work hard to ignore You, thinking (rightly) that they cannot do it. Many have no interest at all, not realizing their need. No matter. The invitation goes out. You bid all who need saving (which is everyone) to come and You will satisfy the need of their souls. Thank You for inviting us, for inviting me, to let You carry our heavy load.